10 Medical Units sent to Karachi Pakistan

After meeting a surgeon from Pakistan at an awareness day, plans unfolded to send redundant medical units to Pakistan

Rotary Awareness Day to Donation ceremony for units in Pakistan

In February 2014 during a Rotary awareness day at the Borders General Hospital, Melrose Doctor Amjad Gulzar Shaikh a locum consultant orthopaedic surgeon introduced himself to members and explained that he undertook corrective surgery on children with Polio in Pakistan. He agreed to come along to Rotary Galashiels and give a talk on the work he was involved in through his charity, Rehabilitation Response. The club members were very humbled by the work he was doing for people who had suffered the serious effects of polio and through discussions we had at the club meal that night we discussed the needs of his charity and the possibility of securing ex medical Breast screening units that might assist with some of the needs in Pakistan was discussed.

After some discussions with the Director of National Services Division, The NHS in Scotland kindly made available to Rotary Galashiels the 10 trailers that were previously being used for breast cancer screening due to an upgrade from analogue to Digital mammography x-ray screening technology in NHS Scotland. Amjad advised that they could still be used in Pakistan and other parts of the world where analogue equipment is still in operation. Amjad was keen to utilise the machinery in rural Pakistan not just for cancer screening but to turn some of the units available into a mobile theatre that can operate on children who have had polio and need surgery on limbs, he also suggested using them as a facility for Polio immunisation.

The costs were by no means small, £133,000 to ship the units from the UK to Karachi, Pakistan. The Club was keen that the charity show its commitment to the project by organising and paying for the transportation rather than through a Rotary Foundation Grant. A Foundation grant we felt would be more beneficial to meeting the objectives of the medical units when they got to Pakistan and the Club did not want to ship some medical units and they sit idle.

June 2016 – Planning to move the units from Hamilton to Pakistan

Thanks to a very generous donation from a businessman in Pakistan the £133,000 required to ship the units was met. It was at this point that everything started to move at a frantic pace. From the paperwork for clearance through customs to getting the units down to the port from storage in Hamilton everyone involved in the project did their bit with many favours asked and thankfully given. Amjad, through his charity, Rehabilitation Response ensured that the empty space inside the units was filled with furniture to be donated to schools in Pakistan. The medical units would start to be shipped on 21st July and arrive in Karachi the last week in July and first week in Aug 2016.

Arranging theDonation Ceremony 13th August 2016

With the arrival of the medical units anticipated by the first week in August, Amjad organised a donation ceremony for the 12th August which was a date the Pakistan Government officials had given for them to attend. He also requested that Tricia Paterson, President Rotary Galashiels and Peter Croan also attend and contacted the Pakistan consulate in London so that our visas might be given priority.

When they arrived in Karachi on the 11th August they were advised that a new Sindh Chief Minister, Mr Murad Ali Shah had been appointed and his office had been in touch that he wanted to attend.

The ceremony also coincided with the weekend celebrations for Pakistan Independence Day, to say the city was buzzing was an understatement. The actual benefits of the ceremony were far greater than any expectations and plans.

·         British High Commission praised the work that Rotary was doing and thanked them for taking the time to come over to Karachi, stressing the importance of the bridges Rotary was building and were very impressed that this had brought together people not normally seen in the same room.

·         Chief Minister gave what was his inaugural speech in public and made it a humanitarian speech thanking firstly the NHS Scotland and Rotary Galashiels for their donation. He also pledged Government support for the stainability/funding for seven of the units.

·         Media coverage far exceeded expectations with 7 TV crews giving live coverage on National and Local stations along with press coverage.

·         Rotary Karachi and Rotary Pakistan were very pleased about the awareness raising of Rotary. A special evening was organized by the District Governor to celebrate the work.

·         Medical services and Amjad’s charity Rehabilitation Response were given acknowledgment and gained a number of concessions by Government, the main one being the extension of Karachi hospital opening hours.

What Next

Several small projects for clubs – Fridges for Polio vaccination, family project at Hands Centre. Discussions have taken place with Karachi Rotary and several of these would be excellent for Rotakids projects.

Assessment of the possibility that clinical impact may be greater if a focus on Eye Screening rather than incurring resources and benefits that will be accrued undertaking breast screening. The delivery of these units with the facilities to undertake Breast screening has raised awareness and there is no doubt cancer screening and detection of Breast cancer is highly important, however educational facilities are desperately required and again the British High Commission has stated that it would be willing to receive a business case for an education program.  The importance of training is crucial for long term success. Rotary is also exploring the relative cost for investment in Digital mammography and architecture on the mobile units.

Conversion of medical units for limb facilities/medical facility

Business Case with Rehabilitation Response/Rotary Karachi and Grant funding from British High Commission re limb production facilities.

Kickstart Rotakids in Galashiels schools and get them behind projects.

Rotary is looking ahead at a year that may one day be known as the greatest year in its history: the year that sees the world’s last case of polio.